What is important

It’s interesting, isn’t it, how everything can change in the time it takes to blink an eye? How, in just one blink, so much of what you thought was important, suddenly is not!

What is important is not a lifetime of accumulation, nor the trophy’s that sit on our mantles, nor the pieces of paper on which our names and our accomplishments are printed and displayed proudly through framed glass for all to see.

Life’s meaning is not found in the size of our home, the brand of our car, nor the destinations of our holidays.

What is valuable is our connection with those we love who love us back.

Our souls come to this world in a tiny, fleshy human form. We enter crying as we are blinded by the light of this new world, and we gasp when we take in our first breath of life.

Our Mother gets a glimpse of our eternal souls as she peers into the depths of our tear filled baby eyes. In our newly born helpless state, she cradles us, and talks to us in soft loving tones and we feel comforted. We cease to cry as we look back into her eyes and see nothing but love because it is then we know we are going to be o.k. We are two souls who became one by the reciprocal love of our first earthly union.

In the beginning, all we need is love and nourishment and a sense of belonging. Our souls grow and expand as we experience this love. We grow up in a family that is uniquely ours. Through this family we learn about the world in which we live. Before long we are leaving home and forging a new life which we can now modify to suit our emotional and intellectual needs. Our path is our own and our life begins to take on a new shape because we are in control of our destiny. (Rather, we think we are in control). Much of how our life is built is based on endless decisions and responses to those decisions we make along the way. As we watch our life take shape, we begin to believe in the power of our individual control. We begin to believe that if we continue ahead, forging our own chosen path along life’s journey, we will be fine.

But, life isn’t that simple. We are faced with many challenges that are beyond our immediate control. Some of us do not even make it to adulthood due to an accident or an unexpected illness. These are the times that serve as reminders to us that our control is very limited and we cannot fix everything by ourselves.

Right now, our world is facing a terrible Pandemic that few of us have ever experienced before. In the U.S., in recent times, it has probably never even been considered a possibility by an individual ordinary citizen. Few of us will escape this invader. Most of us will survive this invader and some of us will die.

We are asked to stay home and so we do. From our sofas and chairs we watch the news and listen as they tell us that our entire society must come to a halt. Major industries are closing down, churches are closing, people are losing their jobs, businesses are desperately trying to do anything they can to stay solvent and our savings are in peril.. Our enemy is foreign, invisible and highly contagious.

I find myself thinking of people throughout history who faced their own mortality. These people, who in the process of settling this country, faced insurmountable hardships in the form of inadequate housing, sickness, starvation…and death. Death was always present in those early days of very few medicines and even fewer Doctors.

Death takes many forms in many different circumstances.

I read about the Civil war where more soldiers were killed than in any other war in history. I think of the many wars that young men have fought in and died, never getting the chance to know what life could have brought them afterwards.

I think of the many people who sit across from their Doctor and receive bad news about the amount of time they may or may not have left.

I think about the famous ship, the Titanic, where countless people on that ship suddenly became aware of the fact that they were going down under the icy waters of the Atlantic and were forced to wait for death as the “unsinkable ship” slowly sank into the darkness bringing them along with it. One story goes that there were musicians who continued to play music knowing the ship was slowly sinking and that they were facing certain death.

There have been plagues before. The 1600’s brought smallpox, the 1700’s brought yellow fever, the 1800’s brought Cholera and Scarlet Fever, the 1900’s brought Typhoid, Spanish flu, Diphtheria, Polio, Measles and HIV. Our ancestors faced similarly frightening scenarios.

This new virus that is killing people all over the world is taking its toll on human lives. Sickness and death is just one big part of it, but the economic impact following will be another major consequence and we can only pray that it won’t drive us into another depression to equal the Great Depression.

Human lives have always been fragile and people in third world countries have faced the fragility of life from a very young and tender age. A lot of people in developed countries in modern times have not had to face fear head on because in the recent past, lets say the last 75-100 years, many of us have lived lives of comfort due to modern medical advances which have led us to believe that most everything can be “fixed”. Healthcare became so advanced, we didn’t worry about our children dying young like our ancestors children often did…instead, we assumed that we and our children would live to ripe old ages. Often we were correct in this assumption.

These are very uncertain times and deeply disturbing. We are facing an enemy when we have limited resources with which to fight something of this magnitude. What is also very difficult for most of us is that usually when we feel threatened or insecure, we find comfort in the arms of our loved ones. In these times, we are forced to isolate ourselves from everyone we know. Some of us are in our homes alone and we feel fear of the unknown.

This is history in the making…it will be printed in the history books and future generations will read about it and look at pictures of the event unfolding, just as I was reading yesterday about the 1918 flu pandemic. As I looked at black and white photos of sick people in rows upon rows of medical beds, I imagined each one of them as someones father, mother, daughter, son and the list goes on. In old pictures these individual identities are lost in the mass composite, but each person there mattered to someone.

Daily, it is a struggle to find courage. We pray, we read scripture, and we force ourselves to live in the moment, because we understand that our previous concerns about our future are no longer applicable. By comparison, those concerns now pale. New worries and concerns have stepped in to take their place.

I find myself thinking of my Mother again, imagining what she would have thought of all this. In the deepest recess of my psyche, I sometimes wish I was once again the baby she held so long ago, me watching her look deeply into my eyes as I listen to her soft voice reassuring me that I will be fine.

The reassuring voice has come back and this time it is my father reassuring me. My heavenly father who created me is whispering reassurance into my heart that it will all be fine. One way or another, this will all pass, and we will all be fine. Things may not work out exactly as we are hoping but HE reassures me it will still be fine. As I pray and listen with my heart, I know HE is right. I know that throughout history, people have faced fear and have chosen to ramp up their courage, their acceptance, and their faith that all things work out for the better good.

I reflect on my Mother and I thank her now for bringing me up to know that there is a God who is Lord over all. We are all part of a much bigger picture, each of us just one tiny thread among millions of other threads of many different colors, woven together to create a tapestry of Gods design. The most beautiful tapestries tend to have a lot of darkness woven in to bring out the beauty of the colored threads. Dark times are represented by dark threads. Some threads have been knotted to sit securely in place and some have been snipped. I don’t know if my future is going to be knotted in place or if I will be snipped free, but I am choosing to trust that this is all part of Gods design.

As I continue to read about other perilous times, I find my heart touched by their displays of courage. As history shows us their many act of courage, I know that I will face my own fears and choose to pick courage to live along side my fears as well. Its the only wise choice!

“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’”

—Eleanor Roosevelt

Jjb/5/21/2010

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